updated 5/14/2009 8:22:51 AM ET 2009-05-14T12:22:51

Overnight fighting between Afghan police and insurgents in southern Afghanistan left 11 militants dead, officials said. Meanwhile, a NATO pilot was injured after his jet crashed following takeoff in the same region.

Insurgents attacked the police post in Paktika province Wednesday evening and fighting raged for several hours, said Gen. Dawlat Khan, the provincial police chief. Eventually, international forces called in an airstrike to help the officers.

Eleven militants but no police were killed in the fighting, he said.

In the southern Kandahar province, meanwhile, a British jet crashed on takeoff Thursday due to mechanical failure, said Lt. Cmdr Christopher Hall, a spokesman for the NATO-led force. The pilot was wounded after ejecting from the aircraft in Kandahar airfield, he said.

"There were no other passengers on board. At present we are not aware of any other casualties," Hall said.

There was no suggestion of Taliban involvement, he said.

U.S. and NATO-led troops rely heavily on the aircraft for support while conducting operations in Afghanistan's rugged southern province, where a lack of roads makes movement of support troops difficult. The area is also the heartland of the Taliban-led insurgency where thousands of new U.S. troops will join the fight later this year.

Police targets in Kandahar
In another incident, police officers were again the target of an attack Thursday morning, when a suicide car bomber struck a police station in Kandahar province's Spinboldak district. Gen. Abdul Raziq, the border police district commander, said four officers were wounded in the blast. The Interior Ministry said a civilian was also wounded.

The explosion killed the car bomber but there were no other deaths, Raziq said.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to The Associated Press.

Spinboldak sits in the southeast corner of Afghanistan, an area where the Taliban often wield more control than the government. Many of the 21,000 additional U.S. troops deploying to Afghanistan this summer will spread out across the south as the U.S. tries to regain control of a war that it once thought it had won.

This week, President Barack Obama put his stamp on the bloody eight-year conflict by replacing the general in charge of the effort and installing a new ambassador. The Obama administration hopes the leadership shake-up will help reverse the militants' momentum.

On Wednesday, a gunbattle between police and Taliban in western Badghis province left one officer dead, said Ekrammuddin Yawar, the regional police chief. He said he had reports of Taliban deaths as well, but did not have a figure.

More on   Afghanistan   |  Taliban   |  NATO

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